The Ivy Coach Daily

June 3, 2024

How to Get Into Northwestern University

The Arch is featured at Northwestern University’s main entrance.
Northwestern currently remains test-optional through the 2024-2025 admissions cycle (photo credit: Rdsmith4).

Northwestern University ranks #9 in the 2024 U.S. News and World Report Best National Universities ranking because of its formidable reputation for academic excellence, high quality of life on campus, and cushy relationship with many major industries. While Northwestern does not maintain a minimum GPA requirement for admission, their 2022-23 Common Data Set indicates that 96% of first-years graduated in the top tenth of their high school class, 99% in the top quarter, and 100% in the top half. Does this mean a 4.0 is necessary for admission? Not necessarily, but Northwestern prizes students who take the most rigorous high school coursework available to them and perform well in these courses. Any shortcomings on transcripts should be supplemented with strong written material and stellar recommendations.

How to Get into Northwestern University

Northwestern Admission Requirements

Northwestern SAT/ACT Score Requirements

Northwestern is test-optional through the 2024-25 admissions cycle, although we at Ivy Coach have reason to believe this policy will not last much longer than that.

Amongst members of the Class of 2027, 47% submitted SAT scores, and 31% submitted ACT scores.

Mid 50% Range1500 — 156033 — 35

Does Northwestern Superscore SAT or ACT scores?

A superscore combines the highest section scores from each individual test sitting for admissions evaluation. Northwestern superscores both the SAT and the ACT, evaluating the highest scores reported for the Reading and Writing and Math section of the SAT, and the maximum value of each official section score of the ACT.

However, students should submit more than one score report only for the purposes of superscoring. Submitting multiple test administrations shows Northwestern that you had to work harder than many other applicants to achieve your scores, so Ivy Coach discourages the practice.

What High School Courses Does Northwestern Require?

Northwestern Undergraduate Admissions recommends the following high school curriculum:

Note that applicants to the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science are required to have completed four years of mathematics through calculus, and three years of laboratory science with a focus on chemistry and physics. With that being said, four years of study in each core subject is essential for a competitive college application anywhere in the U.S., and foreign language study ideally should begin by eighth grade. 

What Extracurriculars Does Northwestern Look For in Applicants?

When it comes to extracurriculars, the last thing a prospective applicant should do is frame themselves as well-rounded. Admissions officers at Northwestern seek to build diverse classes of students composed of experts and specialists. Decorated actors, groundbreaking scientists, and innovative writers who each push the needle in their respective fields will fare a lot better than those with a jack-of-all-trades approach to resume building. Students should pursue their special “thing” as far as it will go, because Northwestern will take notice!

Northwestern Application Requirements

Northwestern applicants must complete The Common Application or The Coalition Application, the Northwestern Supplement, a counselor recommendation, and two teacher recommendations. An alumni interview is optional. 

Let’s focus on each individual component and discuss how students should complete them to give them the best shot of admission.

Who to Ask For Letters of Recommendation

Applicants to Northwestern should ask two teachers — ideally two junior year teachers in core subjects — in addition to their school counselor for letters of recommendation.

Does Northwestern Require an Alumni Interview?

Alumni interviews are conducted as part of the application process on an optional basis that is determined based on an applicant’s geographic region. Across all highly selective colleges in America, the interview component is one of the least important parts of an application, so we would not recommend stressing over it!

What are Northwestern’s Supplemental Essay Topics?

The essay component of an application, on the other hand, is one of the most important components. Northwestern applicants must complete the following supplement

“The following question is required for all Common Application and Coalition with Scoir applicants (optional for QuestBridge applicants). Please respond in 300 words or fewer:

We want to be sure we’re considering your application in the context of your personal experiences: What aspects of your background, your identity, or your school, community, and/or household settings have most shaped how you see yourself engaging in Northwestern’s community, be it academically, extracurricularly, culturally, politically, socially, or otherwise?

The following questions are optional, but we encourage you to answer at least one and no more than two. Please respond in fewer than 200 words per question:

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Northwestern Admission

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to Northwestern, fill out Ivy Coach’s complimentary consultation form. We’ll then be in touch to outline our college counseling services.

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